Netflix’s New Movie: To The Bone

Netflix recently released the trailer for a new movie that will be available to stream this July. It’s called To The Bone, and it’s about a girl with anorexia nervosa. Since being released, the trailer has begun appearing more and more frequently on my Facebook newsfeed. Each time it’s popped up, I’ve told myself to ignore it. I’ve tried to shove it out of my head and keep it out of my mind… But that’s gotten harder to do the more people hear about it, and subsequently, repost, retweet, hashtag, and comment on it. I know that as time goes on, and especially once it’s available to stream, it’s going to come up even more frequently, and people will be talking about it. Just like they did with 13 Reasons Why.

I know there are a lot of different opinions about the show 13 Reasons Why, and I’m sure there are going to be a lot about To The Bone as well. I’m not going to try to convince you of which “side” you should be on, of whether it’s helpful and raising awareness, or triggering and should be taken off the internet. I’m just going to share my perspective as someone who has spent a good portion of her life struggling the disorder being dramatized as Netflix’s newest movie.

Last night, after having scrolled past the To The Bone trailer probably 50 times, I gave in. I watched the trailer. And I so wish I could undo it. The first snippet from the film shows the main character, played by actress Lily Collins, calorie counting, compulsively exercising, and weighing herself. Classic eating disorder behaviors. Behaviors I know all too well, and that I really, really didn’t need to watch play out in front of me.

I didn’t watch the entire trailer, and I know that I can’t fairly judge the movie unless I do so. I won’t, and I don’t need to. I don’t care to judge the entire movie, I just want to talk about the things I do know from the parts I did see.

My initial thoughts after watching it were, “No.” No no no no no no no. No, I did not want this to be a movie. No, I did not want this to be on Netflix, accessible to me or anyone else  whose struggled with the life-threatening mental illness. No, I didn’t want it to be “glamorized” for younger viewers, or for anyone, really, who could watch it and get ideas on “how to become anorexic.”

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this on here before, but something I find myself struggling with a lot in my recovery, is possessiveness of my eating disorder. A big (big, big, BIG) part of my eating disorder was a type of “frozen dessert” called Arctic Zero. My mom now jokes about it, saying “Yeah, ZERO flavor!.” It’s a diet ice cream (if you can even call it “cream,” since there’s none in it!) that’s very low in calorie and even lower in flavor. But for me, during my disorder, it was a god-send. It got me through days when I hadn’t allowed myself to eat anything else, because I could eat that entire pint of ice cream, for only 150 calories. It’s still very triggering to me, to this day.

There’s a competing brand of ice cream called Halo Top. It’s been around for a while, but has become trendy in the recent year. It’s also triggering for me, for the same reason: it’s a diet ice cream, and it takes me back to that dark time of my disorder. Ironically, I never allowed myself to eat Halo Top because it was a whopping 240 calories for the whole pint. That’s less than a single one of my three snacks now, not to mention the additional three meals I eat each day! I’ve very intentionally stayed away from both Arctic Zero and Halo Top since being in recovery. I won’t even walk past them in the grocery store; they just bring up too many bad memories. With Halo Top becoming more popular in the recent year, however, it’s become harder to stay away from. I can still remember the first time I opened the freezer at my house in Corvallis and saw a pint of Halo Top, staring back at me. One of my roommates had bought it. She didn’t know what it meant to me; how would she? Nevertheless, I called my mom crying, overcome with emotions of sadness, frustration, and jealousy.

Jealousy? You may be wondering if that’s really what I meant. I can assure you, it is. It might sound silly, but it’s true. My mom’s compared my feelings around Arctic Zero and Halo Top to that of a jealous ex-girlfriend. That’s my special food. It was my saving grace. How dare you try to steal that from me? I can’t have it anymore, and now you get to?! (Trust me, I realize how dumb this sounds!).

Anyway, back to last night. I watched the first part of the trailer, and immediately felt like a knife was being twisted through my small intestines. That jealous feeling was back. wanted to be Lily Collins. wanted to tell this story. wanted to be able to tell it my way, and I wanted it to be done right.

My feelings during and after watching the trailer took me back to a time when I made the mistake of reading an excerpt from a book my mom was reading, when I was in treatment the first time (at age 15). The book is called “Brave Girl Eating,” and it’s excellently written. The author, Harriet Brown, wrote it about her experience going through anorexia recovery with her daughter. While it contains incredibly detailed content that is undoubtedly potentially triggering, it was written with the intent of being a resource for parents of children with eating disorders, or really, I guess, for anyone wanting more insight into what someone recovering from anorexia nervosa is experiencing. For me, however, reading the few pages I did sent me into a tailspin. That might’ve been my first panic attack ever, I’m not sure, but I vividly remember lying on the stairs, where I’d found the book, hands over my ears, eyes closed, bawling. All of the memories I’d been trying so hard to keep out of my head came flooding back, it was like I was reliving the darkest of my eating disorder days.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean the book shouldn’t have been published. It doesn’t mean it’s not a great book, and an incredible resource.

It simply means that I’m not the audience.

I think that this show, if done well, has the ability to be a great resource. I think it could inform people, and hopefully steer them away from playing around with the number one cause of death by mental illness. I won’t be watching it, and that’s okay. I don’t need to. I’ve lived it.

Something I’m learning more and more as I go through recovery, is that just because something is not good for me, doesn’t mean it’s not good.

I’m part of a fairly strong E.D. recovery community on Instagram. There’s been a lot of talk about this show in the recent week, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with this viewpoint. I’ll have to thank my conversation with my mom for that one. I’ve seen people write, “How dare they put out content that’s so triggering?” and “What kind of twisted person could stand to watch a show like that?” and so on and so forth.

The word, “triggering,” is thrown around a lot nowadays. I realized, when thinking further about this matter, that I was being quite hypocritical. I hate when people are overly-concerned with triggering others. I don’t want to sound too harsh here and say a blanket statement that I think everyone should just “grow a thicker skin,” but as a rule of thumb, that is more along the lines of my opinion. How can I say that, though, if I don’t believe that when it’s actually something that applies to me?

I realized, today, that if I say this show shouldn’t be allowed to air, I’m being that person that I get so frustrated with. I’m being the one who needs to be protected, who’s saying, “You can’t do that, because it affects me.” I don’t want to be that person. I’m working on realizing that my issue shouldn’t become everyone else’s issue, and that’s hard. It would be a lot easier if the entire world was a safe place where nothing anyone did ever adversely affected anyone else. Unfortunately, that’s not reality, and that is something that I will continue to work through.

On another note, my blog was chosen this week as one of the Top 100 eating disorder blogs on the internet, and I was given a cool badge to display on my page 🙂 So, if you’re wondering what caused the change in my site’s appearance, that’s it! The old layout didn’t have a spot where I could display the badge, so I decided to change it up a bit.

 

-Bridge

 

The Best Year Yet

On Thursday I said, “Goodbye,” to the house I’ve lived in since last June. I’d never lived in a house with three other girls, or any other girls for that matter, before. It was a growing experience in so many ways.

I didn’t expect to cry when I left, but I did. There were so many emotions running through my mind. As I told one of my dearest friends, and roommate, Claire, while we said our goodbyes (although we did clarify…it’s not a goodbye, just a see-you-later!), as she’s graduating from Oregon State today, the four of us did so much more than just “live” together. We learned together, laughed together, and most importantly, loved together. She was quick to point out how much we grew together, too, and I’d have to agree. It’s really weird for me to think back to this time last year and where I was mentally. I feel like I’m a completely different person. We laughed when I pointed out that I think all summer last year, I had five things in the fridge at all times. Five things, and only five things. All summer. I ate the same breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack, all summer. For three months. That’s a lot of the same! Now, I’m getting better at switching things up, and when opportunities come up that push me out of my comfort zone, most of the time, I take them. It’s still not easy, but it doesn’t cause me to break out in panic, and the majority of the time, I even end up enjoying it! I’m learning more and more that life is better without my eating disorder.

My mom and I were running errands last night, and I got teary eyed at the check-out of Home Depot. It’s going to sound ridiculous, I know… But you know where they sell candies and things on the shelf next to the check-out? I saw Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix, and sunflower seeds, all sitting along the shelf. Claire’s favorite things! Oh, how I will miss her! And that’s such an incredible feeling. To have grown so close with someone that simply seeing their favorite treats will bring you close to tears. I’ve never had that before. I’ve had close friends, yes. Lots of them, actually! But there’s something about a roommate that’s different. They’re there all the time. Especially during such a transformative year for me. They were there after each appointment, when there were tears of sadness and tears of joy. They were there when I lost Rocky, when Bradley played his last football game (they actually came to that game!), when I had to have two hand surgeries in six months, when I didn’t think I could make it through one more week of anatomy and chemistry… They were there through all of it. To give pep talks, hugs, share in the sadness or rejoicing I was experiencing, and just to be a listening ear. This year, more than anything, I think I learned the value of relationships. The value of truly living life with someone, or multiple someones! The coolest thing about that, is that it’s the exact opposite of what an eating disorder wants. It’s often said in treatment, eating disorders thrive in secrecy. They desire seclusion, delusion, and anxiety and depression. There’s a reason I’ve never lived with roommates before this year, and it’s not because I just prefer to be independent. It’s largely been due to my E.D. I feel so blessed to have lived with girls who were such positive influences in my life. They were each so healthy, in their own way. Some ate “cleaner” than others, some worked out more, but all lived a life of balance. Each of them was down to grab pizza at 8 o’clock if someone offered it up, none of them were scared to try a bite of someone else’s food, each of them worked out because it made them feel good. I’d be silly to think that being surrounded each of these girls’ healthy mindsets wasn’t critical in helping me develop my own. I know that Jesus placed each of these girls in my life for a reason, and I am so much more thankful for that than I can put into words. So, Claire, Anna, and Molly… Thank you.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I’d sort of forgotten (I’m not a terrible daughter, I had gotten him a present…I just forgot about the typical celebration part!), and had planned to go out to a smoothie bar with my friend, Savannah. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while… Honestly, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years (!): Go to Kure and get a smoothie bowl. It’s a pretty trendy thing to do in Portland, and honestly, I think I’m the last one of my friends to have ever not had one…but due to E.D. reasons, I never have. I’d gone to Kure, twice. But never have I gotten a bowl (it’s a smoothie base, topped with granola). It was going to be a challenge for me, but I was up for it! Anyway, the plan was to go Sunday morning. Then, my mom reminded me about Father’s Day. Shoot. We proooobably should go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with my Dad. That was going to mean two challenge meals, basically back to back. Oh, and how had I forgotten? My mom and brother and I had made plans for a family friend to come over tonight to play games…and have dessert. Yeah, the D-word. Three things in 24 hours?!! Ohhhh boy.

You know what, though? I’m feeling up to it. And that’s the part that’s so cool about growth. Along the way, I didn’t notice how much each “challenge food” I’d done, each last minute things I’d said yes to, each “full-fat” thing I’d ordered, etc. thing was making me grow, but now I’m seeing the results of it. Am I still slightly stressed about the fact that I have all of these more difficult things coming up in such a short period of time? Yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s life. And more and more, I’m learning to embrace that.

In Him,

Bridge

 

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Until it’s Gone

There’s a well known quote, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I’ve always heard that quote in a negative context, as in: you don’t realize how much you’ll miss something until you don’t have it anymore. I’m beginning to see it in a way I never thought about it, though — that you don’t realize how bad something is, until the weight of it is removed from you.

As the veil of both my anxiety and depression are gradually lifting, I’m seeing the light at the end of this tunnel more and more. Little things are making me smile. I find myself laughing — not forcing a chuckle, but actually laughing — frequently.

I realized late this morning, after having had quite a few frustrating things happen, that I was still feeling okay. In fact, I was still feeling better than I can recall feeling at any point over the last few months (maybe year). It’s like I didn’t realize how bad my depression and anxiety were until I was no longer held captive by them. I didn’t realize that it was my depression that was causing me to take naps most days, not because I was tired, but because I didn’t want to sit through the torturous thoughts that would come through my head, from after I’d finished breakfast to when I had my snack, and then again from that time to when I’d later eat lunch. And on a really bad day, again from lunch on through dinner. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have to work so hard to smile, even when around people who used to make me truly happy. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to feel so drained of energy all the time, even when I’d gotten a full eight-hours of sleep the night before.

One of the hardest things in this recovery process is trusting. Those of us in treatment hear it all the time: Trust your team. Trust your dietician. Trust your psychiatrist. Trust your therapist. Trust your parents. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds! By trusting, we’re allowing one of the most important things in our lives, our eating disorder, to be taken out of our hands, and submitting to those who know better. There’s nothing they can tell us that’s reassuring enough. My team had told me many a time, “Trust us. It will get better.” And now, I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labor, the benefits of my trusting paying off. With that, I feel my trust I have for my team growing even stronger. I trust that they know what’s best for me, even if I don’t like it, and even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. I know that they have my best interest at heart, and I know that they’re walked this journey with other patients, too — patients who didn’t think it would get better, but for whom it did.

I’m stressed right now. Between going through training for my new summer job, finalizing details for my internship, studying for finals, still commuting Corvallis to Portland and back each weekend, etc., my plate is pretty full. But despite all of those things, I feel lighter. Not physically (my E.D. wishes!), but mentally and emotionally lighter. I don’t feel like I’ll snap if one more thing goes wrong, and I don’t feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning.

I did something challenging today. I got rid of about 50 pieces of clothing. Some of it will be sold, and the rest donated. My therapist has been encouraging me for a while to go through my closet and take out the clothes that are no longer fitting me, as they’re not serving any purpose besides reminding me that I’m gaining weight! The process of getting rid of clothes is challenging though. Not just because they no longer fit me, as I know that can be challenging for the average person as well, but because getting rid of them implies that I’m not going back to a weight where they will fit again. Ever. That sort of finality is scary, it means that I’m letting go of another layer of my eating disorder. As I shared on my recovery Instagram account (@balancedbridge), last week I said, “Goodbye,” to a pair of jeans that had a lot of emotional meaning to me. The quoted text below was how I captioned the photo.

Well, the day has come.
My body-checking jeans are officially too small.
My therapist has told me to get rid of this pair of jeans countless times, and I kept putting it off.
This morning, as I strained to pull them over my ever-growing thighs, I realized that the time had finally come. They are too tight.
It’s with great sadness that I say goodbye to these jeans. They’ve been with me through a lot. I told my therapist that I couldn’t get rid of them, because that symbolized really moving on from my eating disorder. I’ve used these jeans to body-check since I got them my senior year of high school. That’s four years. That’s a LONG time.
Today though, I am choosing recovery. Today, I’m moving forward. And today, I’m saying goodbye to these jeans 👋🏼

If you don’t know what body-checking is, it’s a term used in the E.D. community for measuring one’s body, and it’s always regarded in a negative way. For me, getting rid of the pair of jeans I’ve used to body-check (there were a few other items of clothing used for that as well, but I got rid of them when I was in the PHP program last year) is a pretty big step. I hope to never have to get rid of another item of clothes used for body-checking, as I hope to be ridding myself of that nasty habit.

I know I said I probably wouldn’t blog again before the end of the school year (and I meant it when I said it!), but it’s just such a great outlet for me! I decided to write a post because of today being celebrated worldwide as “National Eating Disorder Action Day.” If you want to read more about what this day means, click here.

 

If you’re reading this, thank you for supporting me and following my journey. Happy June, and I hope you’re able to enjoy this beautiful sunshine!

🙂 Bridge

 

A Great Day

Yesterday was a great day.

Nothing in particular “happened” to make it that way, but the way I’ve been feeling made it so.

I haven’t been cleared to do more activity, my period hasn’t returned, and I’m not yet done with classes for the term (TWO MORE WEEKS). Yet, for some reason, I’m feeling awesome.

My therapist said on Thursday that I seem like a whole different person. Dr. Rock concurred with her at my check-in with him on Friday.

And you know what’s cool?

I weigh the most I have in over three years. I feel the best I have in that time frame.

My treatment team has told me that as I got into a healthier weight range, I would probably start to feel better. I didn’t think they could possibly right. I guess that maybe they were! I feel the most vibrant, full-of-life, and confident that I can remember feeling since, honestly, ever. And that is despite a lovely zit that’s made it’s home in the center of my forehead!

I know that I’d be naive to think that it’s all going to be a downhill battle from here. I know it won’t be. My meal plan just got increased (again), due to my weight holding fairly constant despite the amount of food I’m putting into it. I’m handling it well, though,  agreeing to make the additions necessary and continuing to move forward. I also have begun to get intermittent cramps, something I’m really (really really really) hoping is a sign of my period on it’s way back. We’ll see!

The photos below are from yesterday. My mom, brother, and his girlfriend came down to Corvallis to go to a baseball game, and I was able to give them a tour of the Football center, where I work. We had a blast. As I said in my Instagram caption, “The sun was out, Beaver baseball won 11-0, and I got to show my fam around the ol’ workplace. Couldn’t ask for a better day!”

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, Everyone. Thank you to all of those who have, will, or are currently serving our country ❤️

🙂 Bridge

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An Unfortunate Reality Check

I had what I would call “an unfortunate reality check” yesterday.

As many of you know, I have been on exercise restriction for some time now (17 months, actually, but who’s counting?). It started back in December of 2015, when I was admitted to residential treatment, and has been in place (to some degree) ever since. Some of that, however, has been self-imposed. I made the personal decision to take a year off from doing cardio after reading Decoding Anorexia and learning about the increased success rates seen in patients who do so. However, once my year was up, I’d fallen back into a place of needing to restore weight, and so was advised to continue abstaining from cardiovascular exercise. This has been one of the most difficult parts of my recovery, but I am proud to say I’ve adhered to my medical professionals’ recommendations. There have been days (many, actually) that I have wanted nothing more than to get out my frustration, anger, joy, anxiety, sadness, glee — you name it — by running until I hit a wall…but I have refrained. It’s a constant battle between healthy Bridgette wanting to do anything and everything to get my weight up to a place where I’m healthy enough to exercise, and the eating disorder, who tells me if I go over my meal plan by a single ounce, then my entire world will fall apart. I’m thankful that more and more, the former seems to be winning out.

I will say, abstaining from cardio has had many benefits. For one, I’ve learned a lot of new coping skills. Coping skills that I know I wouldn’t have had to learn to use if I could’ve evaded my emotions by “running them out.” Secondly, it’s prevented me from relapsing farther than I already did. I strongly believe that I would be in a much, much worse place right now and would be having to restore a great deal more weight than I am already having to, if I had added cardio back into my exercise regimen once I was granted the “Ok” to do so. Thirdly, it’s helping me view my relationship with exercise more healthily. It’s no secret that cardio exercise is an instantaneous calorie burner, and for someone with OCD, anxiety and depression, and anorexia, that can quickly turn into a full-fledged addiction. I’m really proud to say that I enjoy each and every time I walk into the gym to lift weights now, (albeit wishing I could be there for more than 20 minutes at a time!), and that I feel strong when doing so. Fourth and lastly (though I could probably think of more things!), abstaining from weight-bearing exercise has helped maintain my physical health while going through this recovery process.

“What am I talking about?”, you may be wondering. “Exercise is good for your bones?”. That is true, but as it turns out, it’s only true under certain circumstances. Exercise increases bone strength when hormone levels (FSH, LH, estrogen, and estradiol) are high enough. Otherwise, it can be detrimental to the bones, causing irreversible damage to an already weakened body.

And that is where my unfortunate reality check comes in.

I’ve been dying (yes, dying) to go for a run, increasingly so as the weather has gotten nicer and I’ve seen more and more people out doing it. I talked in my last post about wanting to run the 5k that my roommates participated in at the Wanderlust mindfulness triathlon we did last weekend. I wasn’t given my treatment team’s blessing to run it, so I walked it…but that sparked a new conversation. How did we really know my bones weren’t strong enough to handle this? My weight is the highest it’s been in a long time, and actually a weight that I’ve had my period at before (years ago). Couldn’t my body just be taking a long time to start my period, but physically be ready to do so?

Naturally, I presented these questions to my team. They were understanding, and agreed to order blood testing to check my hormone levels. The deal was: If my hormone levels came back “normal,” we would discuss increasing my activity, as that would mean my bones were strong enough to endure more exercise without damage. It would also mean that my period was on its way to returning, but likely was just going to take a bit more time. What “increased activity” would look like was TBD, but you can bet I started brainstorming the minute they said, “We’ll see.” What would I do first?! Where would I run; which trails would I hit? Should I do my favorite loop around the Nike campus, or go back to where we did our summer cross country runs up on Wildwood Trail? Oh, and I could LAP SWIM! That sounds so nice, especially now that we’re getting warmer weather! Not to mention the drop-in gymnastics class I’d been so eager to try ever since before I hurt my hand… I was brimming with ideas, and I hadn’t even gotten the go-ahead yet. You could say I got a little ahead of myself.

Friday I had my blood work done, and I prayed. Oh, I prayed so much. I wanted this so, so badly. I knew that I still had to get to the new weight my treatment team had set, regardless of the outcome, but if I could just be granted the go-ahead to go for a run, I would be so, so happy.

I wasn’t supposed to learn the results until my follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist this coming Friday, but because I’m annoying and wanted to know the results, I called him over the weekend and asked if he could please call me on Monday to let me know; I couldn’t wait any longer.

Well, it turns out that I will be waiting longer. My levels were too low. Not a little too low, but quite a bit; low enough that he doesn’t think my period’s going to return in the coming month, and certainly too low to add in any weight-bearing exercise. To say I was devastated would be an incredible understatement. I got the call from him yesterday morning, and have spent much of the day today pulling myself out of what I know could easily become a state of depression. Despite the sadness, I went about the rest of my day as planned. I still went to the gym and did my 20 minutes of weight-lifting that I’m allowed to do three times a week, and I enjoyed every single second of those 20 minutes. I kept plans to meet up with my Dad, and then my friend Elizabeth later in the afternoon. I will go about the rest of my day, and week, and months to come, doing just what I have been: plugging away at recovery. I know that I can be proud of all the achievements I’m making, even if I can’t run yet. I know that in time (and with added body fat), my period will return. I know that one day, somewhere down the line, I will be able to go for a run — and OH, how I will cherish that day!

It was a really good reminder. I learned from my dietician that though my being at this weight was high enough to trigger my menstrual cycle years ago, it likely is not anymore. The reason for that is: research has shown that each relapse causes a higher body fat percentage needed in order for the body to have a period. The science behind that is that the body doesn’t feel “safe enough” to worry about using the nutrition is getting on non-vital functions, like hormones. Each time I’ve relapsed, my body has had the rug (i.e.: nutrition) pulled out from under it, and therefore, it doesn’t want to waste any unnecessary energy producing hormones. So, while X pounds may have been enough weight for me to have my period before I’d relapsed multiple times, this time, my body may decide that it’s not ready to have a period until I’m at X+Y pounds.

This has been sobering for me. It was an unfortunate reality check, but also a great reminder of the damage I’ve done to my body, and the damage I will work to never do again. I’ve put my body through the ringer and back these last six years, and now I am paying the consequences. I know a lot of people have a hard time reconciling these types of instances along with having a faith in God. I have a hard tine reconciling many things in my faith, but not this. The Bible tells us that God is just. It tells us that He loves us and wants what’s best for us, but also that he is fair, and righteous, and enforces punishment. I don’t believe that God is punishing me by doing this, per se, but I do think I’m paying the consequences for the actions I did to my body.

The one saving grace for me, in all of this, is that my treatment team is proud of me. They’re really, really proud of me — and I can’t even begin to describe how good that makes me feel. I’ve pushed myself in multiple ways over the past month especially, from going above and beyond eating what’s on my meal plan, to trying out new recipes, to being honest and owning up about when I’ve cut something out, and then making up for it, etc. All three of them (therapist, dietician, and psychiatrist) have told me individually how proud of me they are, and I don’t take that lightly. It means a lot, because they don’t always say it…  so when they do, I know it’s genuine. I know that I am doing a good job. I just need to keep at it, and I’ll get there, eventually.

I didn’t intend for this to become a full-length blog post, but I guess that’s just what happens sometimes. It’s hard to keep things short when there’s so much I have to say! There’s a lot more I could write about, but for both my sake and yours, I’ll cap it here. This week is week 8 (out of 10) at school, and as classes are ramping up for final projects and exams, I know things will continue to get more and more stressful. If I don’t blog from now until a few weeks from now, you’ll know why!

I hope you all have a blessed week, and as always, thank you for walking this journey with me.

 

-Bridge

Walking the 5k

Today, I completed my first mindfulness triathalon with two of my best friends. It consisted of a 5k, an hour of yoga, and a meditation. We registered for this a few months ago, and back then it had been my goal to be healthy enough to run the 5k. Yesterday at one of my weekly appointments, I broached the subject with my therapist.

“So, Becca…You know how my weight’s been going up pretty consistently?”

“Yes, Bridge.”

“Do you think, maybe…I could run the 5k with Anna and Claire tomorrow?”

“Bridge…You know the answer to that. Not yet.”

I was broken-hearted. I’d known all along that it wasn’t a sure thing, but I’d been doing so well! Why wasn’t I getting this one privilege that I wanted so bad, as a result of all of my hard work? It was just a measly 3.1 miles, and I was going to be doing it anyway, walking or running! But for whatever reason, my treatment team didn’t think it was a good idea, and I had to just accept that. After taking a minute to process (and complaining/crying to my mom for a while), I took a deep breath, and my mom countered the thoughts I was having, that “I’m not getting any better and I’m NEVER going to get better.” She reminded me that I AM getting better. I’m making progress every single freaking day. Last night, I had a burger and corn, and Hagen Dazs ice cream with my roommates. Today, I ate my breakfast two hours earlier than normal so that we could get to our triathalon, and then at the event I tried a sample of granola. All of those things are little things, but they’re huge to me. They’re things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing even six months ago.

Today at the triathalon, I walked the 5k, with two of my best friends. It may not have been what I wanted, but it was what was right for me. And I am accepting that 💗

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My registration bib

Acne and Anorexia, What’s the Connection?

My skin has been breaking out pretty badly for the last several months. I’d chalked it up to just not washing my face enough, using the wrong make-up, etc…but what I found out today changed the way I think about it completely! I’d tried almost everything to make my newfound “acne problem” go away. I’d researched causes of oily skin, purchased multiple skin care products, and my newest plan: no foundation for thirty days (I’m on day 21 right now — no difference!), in hopes of calming my skin down. The weird thing about me having acne though, is that it’s something I’ve never experienced. All throughout middle and high school, I had “perfect” skin. That’s what everyone told me, and it was pretty true — I never even began to wear foundation until I started college, and I’d never owned concealer. So why was this happening to me, and why now?

While I’d entered numerous search terms on my quest to find out what was making my skin so angry, I never thought to Google “anorexia recovery and acne.” When the thought finally came to me today, I was astounded at what I saw, but it also made so much sense! If you’d like to read an article about it, you can do so here.

While it doesn’t plague everyone going through weight restoration (it didn’t happen to me the first two times I went through it), it’s not uncommon for patients recovering from anorexia to experience severe bouts of acne. The reasoning for this is, the body is learning to adjust to a new equilibrium of hormones it’s being flooded with. The hormones have been suppressed for so long, that the body doesn’t know what to do with this massive influx of them…and the results of this are acne. This does resolve it self, with time (one article I read said within six months of being at a healthy weight, i.e. having a period).

You can probably imagine my joy when I read this. Oh, you mean I don’t just have gaining the remainder of my weight to look forward to? My skin is going to erupt into a bunch of tiny little volcanoes, too? Actually, I was glad. For one, there’s hope of my so-called perfect skin coming back…if I stay in recovery and don’t have to go through this process again. Talk about motivation 😉 Secondly, this influx of hormones is a really good thing, as it means my period is likely on it’s way sometime soon. When that day comes, I will SHOUT from the rooftops!

 

I’m not going to blog any more tonight, as I just used this as a little study break between anatomy study sessions. I hope you learned something new though, and as always, thank you for following along and supporting me on this journey!

🙂 Bridge

P.S. I had a weight check yesterday and my weight was up a good amount, again. I am getting closer!

An Update

Midterm season began last week and will continue for the next three, so naturally, I decided it was a good time for a blog post 😉

I don’t feel like anything monumental has happened since I last wrote, but things still have happened… So, here’s a little update.

The praises: There has been so much good that’s happened over the last few weeks, the highlight of which took place last weekend. I was able to go on a women’s retreat with my church at school, Corvallis Foursquare. “Wonderful,” is the only way I can think to describe it. While away at Rockaway beach I was encouraged, fed (both spiritually and literally), and challenged. My recovery was challenged, mostly. As you can probably imagine, the thought of being away from my routine for 48 hours did not exactly fill me with glee. Still, I felt that the Lord was telling me to go, and much to my eating disorder’s dismay, I listened! The sun shone (a real treat for us Oregonians!), both the worship and the speakers were great, and we were well-loved. I was able to spend time in fellowship with women I haven’t before, and with whom I share my love of Jesus. I also connected with a young woman who is in recovery from heroin addiction, and I can’t put into words how powerful that was for me. About a year ago, my therapist shared with me an article written by Russell Brand about his addiction to heroin. She was comparing it to my recovery, and his experience with it was so spot-on to my own that it’s stuck with me ever since. I’d never met someone who’d been addicted to drugs, until this weekend. The sharing of this woman’s story and the redemption that Jesus has brought to her life brought tears to my eyes, and we immediately bonded. This week we got together one-on-one and talked about recovery, and now she’s going with me to a support group that she went to during her recovery, on Tuesday.

It truly was a perfect weekend. On an equally as glorious note, I was able to change my therapy appointment to this last Thursday instead of Saturday. That allowed me to go home mid-week, and stay in Corvallis for church this weekend! It was great to see everyone again after such an intimate weekend together.

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How can you NOT worship with a setting as picturesque as this?!

 

The prayers: My depression and anxiety have been pretty sucky these last couple of weeks. I was able to have a much-needed break from the depression part while on the retreat. I’m so, so thankful for that break that God gave me. The anxiety was still present, largely because of the fact that I had very little control over what I would be eating (I ate all of my meals there but brought my own snacks). I won’t get into the details of the depression, but you can trust when I say it’s been bad. I think that I’m doing a really good job of not letting it dictate my life, though, and push myself daily to do the things that “healthy Bridgette” would find enjoyable.  I’m continuing to be monitored closely under the watchful eye of my psychiatrist, therapist, and dietician. I ask almost once a week if my weekly therapy appointments can be moved to every two weeks, but my therapist is insistent that I need to continue weekly appointments in order for me to be successful (at least for the time being). I know she’s right, but I cannot wait until I’m no longer having to make that trek back to Portland each week to see her!

I’m slowly making progress toward reaching my final target weight. It’s been a two steps forward, one step back kind-of process. My mom and I went to the GAP when I was in town last week and bought me a pair of jeans that had a little bit of room in them. My dad has offered to replace my clothes that are getting too small, and I didn’t realize how helpful that would be (not wearing pants that are too tight). It definitely makes it easier to follow my meal plan when I know I have pants that will fit me in a few more pounds and aren’t already bursting at the seams. Something my therapist has been wanting me to do for a while, is get rid of my old jeans…the ones that still fit at this point (kind of), but are certainly not going to in a couple more pounds. She tells me almost every time I see her (and so does my psychiatrist) that I’m just making it harder on myself, prolonging the inevitable in waiting for the day that they no longer fit. And it’s true, I know I am. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them just yet. It goes along with another phrase I was reminded of by my team this week: Rip the band-aid off! Meaning, just finish up the weight restoration and get it over with! That’s scary to me, though. So, so scary. I guess that’s one of the places where I’m really still struggling — in accepting that once I get to my target weight, I’m not going back. I need to stay there. That thought terrifies me.

On the flipside: Two people have sent me messages over the last couple days that have been incredibly encouraging to me. Neither of them do I know very well, but both are in recovery from anorexia. Both of them have told me, literally word for word, that getting fully weight restored, to their target weight range, decreased their anxiety was so much they couldn’t even describe it. It seems so counter-intuitive, that doing the exact opposite thing of what the eating disorder wants me to do, gaining weight, could provide such relief. Here I have two living pieces of proof, though! Two people who went through what I’m going through, and who are here to tell me that getting to the other side is worth it.

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All in all, I’ve been incredibly blessed over this last month. Aren’t we always?

-Bridge

 

 

“Overcoming the Numbers Game”

As promised, here is the link to the article from the Beaver’s Digest magazine. I am thankful to my new friend, Adair, for sharing a part of my story with the Oregon State community.

I’ll get to posting a more in-depth blog eventually, but I wanted to post the link to the magazine article in before that time comes. I’m back in Corvallis as I write this, after another successful doctor appointment where I learned that my weight is continuing to go up. This is good. I know it is good. It does not feel good!

For the time being, my focus is on enjoying this final term of my Junior year with my roommates and friends in Corvallis, as well as getting through the anatomy, chemistry, and kinesiology courses I am taking (Whew! That’s a mouthful!), not to mention, my recovery. I look forward to blogging  the next time I have a chance 🙂

 

-Bridge

Even If

The song Even If, by Mercy Me, is one I’ve been clinging to lately. Mainly, it’s the chorus that resonates with me.

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone 

I haven’t felt a whole lot like blogging the last couple of days. 

To be completely honest, I haven’t even really felt like talking. 

I got some news on Monday that kind of rocked my world.

My treatment team did a little digging this past week and found my old growth charts, from before I had my eating disorder. My dietician was becoming suspicious that the target weight they’d set for me, the one I just got to, wasn’t high enough. My period’s yet to come back, but she must’ve had a hunch other than that, because even once at a healthy weight, it can still take someone’s body anywhere from one to twelve months to resume having a menstrual cycle.

So anyway, my psychiatrist pulled out my growth charts. He saw that the target weight they’d been using for me was determined when I was fifteen years old. It hadn’t been accounted for, over the last six years I’ve been in treatment, that I’ve gotten older as well — and, that according to the growth charts, my weight should’ve increased.

You might be wondering what the big deal is. What would the harm be in my target weight being just a few pounds too short? Well, according to research that’s been done on anorexia, it can be pretty detrimental. It actually may be to blame for me having relapsed four times over the last six years; I hadn’t been getting to a high enough weight. If you want to read more about the correlation between anxiety, eating disorder recovery, and why the last few pounds of weight restoration are so important, I talked about it in this blog post.

I’d anticipated that I may be getting some tough news at my appointment on Tuesday, because my therapist told me it might be a good idea to bring my mom to our appointment. My mom normally doesn’t come to my therapy appointments because she’s at work. For her to request time off from work is a pretty big deal, so I knew it was serious. I was not, however, prepared to be told all of this new information, including my new target weight range, at my appointment with my psychiatrist on Monday.

The news that I’m no longer weight restored was very hard to hear. I now have to gain as much weight as I’ve put on since I got home from Italy, again…and it’s more than just a couple of pounds. I have to get to a weight that I’ve never been before.

I’m scared. I’m also sad, and frustrated. I’m feeling a whole slew of emotions that I know I could eliminate with the help of my trusty friend, E.D. I’m not going to turn to him for help, though. I’m determined to make it to the other side of this. I know that I can, and I know that I will. But, it is going to be very, very hard. As uncomfortable as I’ve been over the last three months, I am now about to be even more so.

The reality of this new weight range hasn’t just been hard for me, either. My mom’s cried more than once this week. I know she knows how hard it’s going to be for me, and how hard it’s going to be for her. For one, it’s hard for her to watch me in pain, but it’s also hard because it means an even more extensive role for her as the food police. I know we were both so looking forward to that portion of our relationship becoming less and less prominent.

As much as I wish that this process was over (with every fiber of my being…), I firmly trust my treatment team. I know that they want what’s best for me, and I have to believe that they won’t lead me astray.

I was given permission to do a “freebie” of cardio on Monday afternoon, after hearing the news that brought me to tears. I chose to go to Sky High trampoline park, where I bounced around for an hour. It was really nice of my psychiatrist to give me his blessing to do that. I know it burned a lot of calories, and I had to make up for it by adding to my meal plan, but I think he understood the benefit of it for my mental sanity. After doing thirty flips into the foam pit and bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, I drove myself to Washington Square mall and bought myself a new jacket at Lululemon with a gift card I’d gotten for Christmas. According to the “incentive sheet” I’d made for myself a couple of weeks ago, that gift card wasn’t supposed to be redeemed until I’d maintained my restored weight for three weeks. Because of the circumstances, though, and because I wasn’t going to make myself wait another three months to use the gift card when I’ve been working so hard, I made an exception.

I’m back in Corvallis this week for work, but I’ve been on spring break since Monday . I am very pleased with my grades from this term, especially given what I’ve been dealing with, and am very eager for seven days of relaxing with my mom and brother. We’ll leave for Boise for Bradley’s lacrosse tournament on Friday and then drive to Bend on Sunday, where we’ll stay for the remainder of the week. I’ll return to Corvallis the following Monday and begin spring term of classes. I’m planning taking ten credits, which is a step up from the six I took this quarter. My goal is to slowly begin re-integrating into college living, hopefully staying in Corvallis for some weekends and not having to travel to Portland as frequently for more appointments. I will say though, this goal was made before hearing about how much more weight restoration I’d be having to do, so we’ll see how it goes. As my mom keeps reminding me: If I were in treatment right now (which I technically should be), I wouldn’t be getting to do any of this stuff that I’m doing. I wouldn’t be getting to take classes, I wouldn’t be getting to stay half of the week in Corvallis, I wouldn’t be getting to work. For this season of my life, my focus is recovery. I’m going to get myself as healthy as I possibly can so that I can live my life again. That is my real goal.

 -Bridge